What: The Pimps of Joytime
When: Doors open at 9 p.m., show starts at 10 p.m., Sunday
Where: Cabooze, 917 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
Reclining in a hammock in Costa Rica at an off moment between gigs and sporting a wry smile, Brian J seems perfect for the role of frontman and guitarist for the funky group he founded eight years ago, The Pimps of Joytime.
“I’d had bands before, but this came from a desire to create a movement,” Brian J said. “In ’05 I was like, ‘I’m doing this for real.’”
With a pencil thin mustache tracing his upper lip and a penchant for tight guitar riffs, there’s a definite bit of Prince-iness in Brian J. While he is reluctant to accept that compliment, it’s stylistically appropriate.
Brian J draws from a wide range of influences, many traceable to his formative years as a teen in Brooklyn — afrobeat, hip-hop, salsa and electronica to name a few.
“I love this new kind of hipster-disco movement, but at the end of the day, it’s just music,” Brian J said. “I aspire to transcend the label ‘funk,’ but if that means the core of what [funk] is, that’s really special.”
Funk, more than perhaps any other style of music, relies on cohesion — ESP-like levels of understanding between musicians that, in the end, lets them become one sex machine rather than a group of collaborating individuals.
That’s been difficult as Brian J has dealt with a revolving door of other musicians, so much so that he is the only original member of the group.
But they have overcome that with apparent ease. While some artists’ choral or hook repetitions lead to a frustrating musical impasse, The Pimps of Joytime, like any great, synced, modern funk derivative, blast undeniably catchy riffs to bring listeners to a trancelike I-can’t-stop-moving state.
For all of his ability to write addictive dance hooks, Brian J and The Pimps of Joytime continue to struggle getting to that next level. He seems wistful when imagining the money that would entail — not for personal enrichment, but for expanding their horizons musically … and maybe the luxury of not sharing hotel rooms.
As for that name, it was uttered by a friend and just fit.
“It’s like a suit that isn’t what you usually wear, so you put it in the closet until you’re feeling really good, and you’re like ‘All right, I’m going to wear that suit tonight,’” Brian J said. “It’s audacious and has some attitude, and at that time I felt like I’m really going to have to back this up.”
They do. While Brian J recalls that some of his craziest shows have happened in Idaho, anywhere they go has the potential to be a dance party.
Brian J, the epitome of a man who rolls with the punches, is the catalyst for these sets, though ironically, he’s just as ready to spend time with a good book or boogie down in the kitchen.